Hobart is the hip destination that everyone is heading to in Tasmania. But just half an hour’s drive away from Hobart, following the course of the meandering Derwent River, the Derwent Valley Tasmania is a valley that’s little explored by visitors.
Historic towns, amazing 150-year-old oast houses for drying hops, farm gates, wineries, old estates, salmon ponds and a whisky distillery make a perfect mix for a day trip.
Mary O’Brien asks expert Kim Dudson of Bespoke Tasmania Tours about her favourite places in the Derwent Valley.
1-Best place to pick up fruit for a picnic?
My favourite place is Westerway Raspberry farm on the mountain-ringed fertile Derwent river flats.
It is a great spot to take a break before heading to nearby Mount Field National Park with its three-tiered cascade waterfall – Russell Falls – to saunter among some of the tallest trees in the world.
I like to feast on the Clark family’s luscious raspberries picked straight from the field, including a rare heritage gold variety, as well as blackcurrants and other seasonal soft fruits.
Their new coffee and cake shed is great too and, of course, their raspberry muffins are just the best.
2-An unexpected view of the Derwent Valley?
A spot that locals often take people to is the Red Hills Cemetery at Bushy Park where you get a panoramic view of the hops industry – the largest and oldest in Australia – and the historic oast houses where the hops were dried.
These oast houses, dating from 1867, can be seen among the rich, fertile fields and the nearby rivers. Also the cemetery headstones date from the 1800s.
3-The most informative whisky tour?
Each of the nine distilleries in Tasmania offers something special in their whisky tours. In the Derwent Valley, I like the historic surrounds of the 1819 Redlands Estate in its beautiful riverside location.
The barley is steeped and floor malted within the 1857 granary. Sometimes visitors can use a special spade to turn the maltings themselves – all part of the small-scale, hands-on approach.
The Redlands distillery is one of only two places in the world where the whisky (a great single malt) is distilled from barley grown on the property (the other is at Kilchoman in Scotland).
4-The most exciting newly restored historic property?
At Shene Estate at Pontville (just beside the Derwent Valley) is an impressive 1850s gothic revival stables and barn. Together with the 1830s homestead, these are being meticulously restored by the owners, the Kernke family. Usually the tours of Shene are conducted by one of the family members.
5-The most interesting winery experience?
The Stefano Lubiana winery provides great insights into the biodynamic production behind their flavoursome award-winning wines. Housed in rustic, stylish Italian rooms, perched above the Derwent River, it is also a very pleasant place for lunch, after tasting those excellent drops, especially the sparklings, pinot noirs and chardonnays.